Can You Teach ‘Old Tracks, New Tricks’? (Review + Craft)
Lately, #thelittleone has been learning all sorts of new words. It’s fun to watch him label everything around him- kitties, balls, and recently, ‘choo-choos’. He and #thebigone were both understandably pretty excited when Old Tracks, New Tricks arrived in the mail for review. The mix of trains and crafts was especially appealing to my 6 year old who could not wait to jump in.
Disclosures: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission from purchases you make through the links in this post (at no additional cost to you), which allows me to continue providing free content on the blog. I received a free copy of the book in order to facilitate this review, but all opinions expressed here are my own.
Old Tracks, New Tricks is the creation of Jessica Petersen, who blogs at Play Trains! Jessica has crafted a fun and engaging tale for young readers. Published by The Innovation Press, the book is bright and cheerful. (You may remember The Innovation Press from my recent review of their newest series, Zoey and Sassafras!) The story centers around some run-of-the-mill toy train tracks that are eager to find some fun. As Trixie, Tracky, and Tinker explore different ideas for novel tricks, the trains realize they want in on the action too. Ultimately, both tracks and trains are having fun together as they engage in new antics together.
My son was enamored with the photographs through out the book. The pictures are bright and vibrant, featuring toys with expressive little faces added on. There’s a sense of familiarity in the images- so many families have a stack of train tracks at home, a bin full of duplos, etc. The illustrative style makes it easy for children to make the leap from observing in the book to imagining what their next steps will be. They see the toys they have on hand represented in the book, and their minds start racing with possible tricks. Some of the photographs are so detailed, it’s easy to spend extra time poring over them and discovering little touches you may miss during a quick read-through.
The text itself has a lyrical, sing-song quality that will appeal to children. The rhyming structure will help both pre-readers and emerging readers gain confidence by helping them predict the last words in each line. Jessica includes tons of great ideas to customize and update the trains and tracks you likely already have at home. How much fun would a glow in the dark train set be?! Tracks decorated with foil, and train sets that are set up outside are other fun ideas she has included. The photographs will likely be enough inspiration for your children, but if not, Jessica has included a brief how-to for each idea as well.
Interested in a sneak peek at the first ten pages? You’re in luck!
Teaching OUR old Tracks, New Tricks!
Old Tracks, New Tricks was the perfect book for our family, as it’s such a fun example of children’s literature inspiring craftiness and tinkering. (Even if your child isn’t a huge fan of artsy activities, there are ideas for building and balancing as well, so don’t let them be turned off by the craft talk!) Of course, we wanted to come up with a few fun and simple ways to update some of our train tracks with supplies we already had on hand. Check them out below!
We picked a few of our favorite rolls of washi tape to add some fun, bright detail to some train tracks. (Bonus! Washi tape removes easily, so this modification isn’t permanent. Perfect for indecisive kiddos!)
A little bit of water, some paintbrushes, and some washable markers made a simple, low stress project for us. We took two approaches, and both worked well. My son drew directly on a track with his markers. When he was happy with his design, he used a paintbrush to add water. The washable ink bled a bit, creating a washed out version of his drawing. We also tried wetting the track with water first, and then holding the markers to the track. This method produced watery splotches of color in an almost tie-dyed effect. After painting, we let the tracks dry thoroughly before playing with them.
I’ve got my eye on you
There are a few other simple options to recreate the look of the characters found in the book. Eye stickers are a great option, and very simple to use. Google eyes are another good choice, and with a bit of craft glue are also easy to attach. Our review copy of Old Tracks, New Tricks came with some adorable fake tattoo eyes, which may be a bit difficult to find. Some other fun eye add-ons that are perfect for tech-obsessed kiddos are emoji stickers and emoji tattoos.
We had so much fun reading and creating with Old Tracks New Tricks. I hope you’ll think about checking it out for all the little engineers and conductors in your life!
What sort of new tricks would your kids love to see their old tracks perform? Let me know in the comments below!